Hiking is a well-known way to blow off some steam while getting in extra movement. It is certainly enjoyable to do but how many calories does hiking burn?
Some rough estimations are that the average person will burn around 177 calories to 305 calories while hiking for 30 minutes.
Additionally, hiking 5 miles (8.1 km) can burn around 591 calories to 1016 calories.
An important factor in these amounts of calories burned while hiking is how much you weigh. The 177-calorie estimation is for people with a body weight of 125 pounds (56 kg).
On the other hand, the 305 calories are an estimation for people with a body weight of 215 pounds (97 kg).
While these predictions do give you somewhat of an idea, they are clearly lacking. Details like your hiking surface, your exact speed, your body composition, your backpack, etc. will influence the actual numbers.
This article will also go over things like calorie-burning estimations for different body weights, durations, and distances, how to burn more calories, and what weight loss results you can expect.
Biggest factors in calories burned with hiking
How many calories you burn with an activity like hiking is very hard to predict. This can make it challenging to figure out the balance between your energy usage and consumption.
That being said, by learning a few of the details that influence your energy usage during hiking the most, you can make your sessions more effective.
Additionally, your estimations for your specific estimations can become somewhat more accurate.
Some of these details that influence calorie burning during hiking include:
- Weight: Your body uses energy throughout the day to keep you alive and to move around. Generally, a heavier body weight will mean you burn more calories to do these things.
- Body composition: Body composition comes down to the ratio of different tissues that make up your body weight. This is relevant for how many calories you burn while hiking because muscle tends to burn more calories than the same weight in body fat.
- Hiking speed: How much you weigh is not the only detail that influences how many calories movements burn. By hiking faster, you will burn more calories in the same time interval. There is a big difference between going for a stroll vs a brisk hike in nature.
- Weight of your backpack: Moving more weight typically requires more energy. This not only applies to body weight but also to how heavy your backpack is.
- Hiking slope: Anyone who has hiked up a hill or mountain can tell you that hiking slope matters. Steeper hills with more challenging paths will generally help you burn more calories.
Charts of hiking calorie-burning estimations
A cheat sheet from the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention puts the number of calories burned while hiking into 3.5-7 calories per minute (1).
Luckily, you can use something called MET values to make more precise estimations for different body weights and time intervals.
These MET values are basically an estimation (or measurement if there are studies) for how intense an activity is. You can use these numbers in a formula to calculate estimations for how many calories hiking burns.
Formula: METs x 3.5 x (your body weight in kilograms) / 200 = calories burned per minute
An estimation for the MET while cross-country hiking is 6 (2). You can find the results of using this MET, a variety of body weights, and a variety of durations in the table below.
After that, you can find a table with rough estimations about how many calories hiking certain distances burns.
Again, keep in mind that these are very rough predictions. The MET formula does not include many factors, like for example hiking speed, that can influence the amounts a lot.
Lastly, to get a better idea of what these amounts mean in terms of food, 100 grams of boiled potatoes contain about 87 calories (3).
Calories burned with hiking per time interval
Being able to estimate how many calories you burn by the time you spend hiking is one of the most convenient methods.
|1 Minute||15 Minutes||30 Minutes||45 Minutes||60 Minutes|
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||6 calories||89 calories||177 calories||266 calories||354 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||7 calories||110 calories||220 calories||330 calories||439 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||9 calories||131 calories||262 calories||393 calories||524 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||10 calories||152 calories||305 calories||457 calories||610 calories|
Calories burned with hiking per distance
Additionally, you may hike a certain trail that runs for a certain distance. In a situation like that, the chart below can offer some helpful estimations.
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||118 calories||236 calories||354 calories||473 calories||591 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||146 calories||293 calories||439 calories||586 calories||732 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||175 calories||350 calories||524 calories||699 calories||874 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||203 calories||406 calories||610 calories||813 calories||1016 calories|
Ways to burn more calories while hiking
By now, you likely understand that all of the calorie amounts above do not mean you don’t have a say in how much energy you use while hiking.
You can increase the actual numbers by implementing a few changes.
First of all, you can increase the numbers of calories you burn while hiking by moving at faster speeds. Even half a mile per hour faster can make a big difference in a day-long hike.
Secondly, you can consider moving around more weight. The most straightforward way is putting extra things in your backpack but you can also build extra muscle mass with other exercises.
The third way is to hike on a more challenging surface. For example by hiking steeper hills with not-so-even paths.
An estimation for the MET of walking 3.5 mph on a flat surface is 4 vs the estimated MET of walking 3.5 mph uphill at 6 (2).
In calories burned with walking that would mean that a 155-pound (70 kg) individual walking 3.5 mph for 15 minutes would burn around 73 calories on a flat surface vs 110 calories uphill.
That’s a relatively big difference and you can expect similar differences when hiking.
How long does it take to see results from hiking?
All of this extra calorie burning is nice but you likely want to see what this can mean in terms of fat loss results.
Before going into some numbers, you need to know that while hiking can be good for weight loss, it is no guarantee for results. Your habits in other areas like diet will play a big role too.
That aside, if you assume you have a routine where you stay at the same weight and only implement more hiking, you can get a few interesting numbers.
A 155-pound person who hikes 5 hours a week can burn an extra 2195 calories or about 0.63 pounds (0.27 kg) of body fat in this timeframe.
If this same person keeps up the same routine for 4 weeks, they can burn an extra 8780 calories which are about 2.51 pounds (1.1 kg) of body fat.
Again, keep in mind that whether these calories come from body fat or other sources also depends a lot on other lifestyle habits like your nutrition.
Should you do hiking for calorie burning?
Hiking does burn a nice amount of calories but there are definitely more effective options too.
That being said, some of the benefits of hiking are that many people enjoy doing it, that you can do it for long durations, and that you get some extra sunshine.
These things can make it easier to stay consistent with your exercise routine and offer some secondary calorie-burning effects.
So per minute, there will be more effective exercises but you can still choose hiking for its relatively unique benefits.
If burning calories is your main goal it can be helpful to build muscle with resistance training exercises too.
The extra muscle mass will help you use up more energy during everything you do. This includes during your hikes.
Lastly, to see fat loss results from all this calorie burning you will likely also need to keep an eye on lifestyle habits like your diet.